Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday that Israel Defense
Forces troops will take over the area in Gaza from which
Qassam rockets were fired at Israel for the past few days.
Mofaz was referring to the area between Beit Hanoun and the
Jabalya refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, and said
that troops would remain there for as long as necessary.
Observers said that the IDF does not seem to be moving into
settled areas, but only setting up observation posts and
positions from which to prevent the firing of rockets into
Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets at Sderot Tuesday
morning, moderately injuring one man, 24 hours after a young
child and a 49-year-old man were killed by a rocket that
landed beside a nursery school in the western Negev town on
Monday morning. The young boy was being taken to school by
his mother, who was seriously injured in the attack, and the
older man, an immigrant from Buchara, was taking his
grandchild to school. The murdered boy was late for class and
therefore he was still outside when the rocket fell in the
middle of the street near the school for 35 young children.
The man was waiting outside while his daughter brought her
son inside to school.
At the funeral later that day for his son, the father said
that he had waited 15 years for him, but now he was taken
after so short a time. "That's what Hashem wanted," he
Sderot was founded about 50 years ago for immigrants, many of
them from North Africa and lately from the former Soviet
Union. It now has about 24,000 residents.
The response in Gaza began with a late Monday air strike on a
Hamas-linked media center located in a 16 story building in
Gaza. The high-rise targeted by the IAF houses several media
outlets, including the Arab TV satellite station Al Jazeera.
White smoke rose from the building and ambulances raced to
The army said that the Hamas office it targeted was "a
communication center which maintained constant contact with
terrorists [and] through which Hamas claimed responsibility
for terrorist attacks." It is a war crime to locate a combat
installation in a building that also houses noncombatant
Minutes later, helicopters also fired a missile at a building
housing a metal workshop in the Nusseirat refugee camp in
central Gaza. The foundry was said to have been destroyed in
the strike, with no reports of casualties. The IDF said Hamas
used the foundry to manufacture weapons.
The deaths of the four-year-old and the man marked the first
time in nearly four years of fighting that Israelis were
killed by rockets from Gaza. Since the start of the intifadah
in September 2000, 347 Qassam rockets have been fired at
Israeli targets, of which 265 have landed within the Green
The Qassam rockets are only vaguely aimed and are completely
unguided once they take off. They are long steel pipes that
are fueled with fertilizer and have a payload of about 10
kilograms (22 lb.) of explosives. Their range is no longer
than about 10 kilometers (6 miles) but Beit Hanoun is only
about two kilometers from Sderot.
Palestinian security sources said Tuesday that a Palestinian
had been killed so far in the IDF raid. The victim was a
Hamas man setting up a bomb in the path of oncoming Israeli
troops who was spotted and shot.
One of the Qassams in the Tuesday shelling landed in an
industrial area on the outskirts of the town, the other in an
open area outside the city.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Sycamore Ranch home is located
just outside Sderot, and is believed to be the target of many
of the Qassam missiles.
On Sunday the Ochan post in Gaza was blown up. IDF Staff
Sergeant Roi Nissim was killed and five troops were wounded.
Terrorists detonated 150 kilograms of explosives in a tunnel
they had dug underneath the post in the central Gaza
settlement bloc of Gush Katif.
On Monday, IDF troops also destroyed two empty eight-story
buildings in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Strip located
a few hundred meters from the Ochan stronghold. A ventilation
shaft for the tunnel under Ochan was found between the
buildings, and it was believed that the tunnel passed beneath
Following the attacks, Mofaz cancelled a trip to Italy later
in the week.
On Tuesday morning, a 63-year-old Israeli man was found shot
dead south of Elkana in an area controlled by the Palestinian
Authority known as Area A. It is off limits to Israelis,
though some go there to do business.
The man's truck was found parked by Red Crescent paramedics.
He had been shot in the chest in his truck, which had been
sprayed with gunfire. The Red Crescent paramedics told
Israeli authorities, who reported that the man had a criminal
The Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group with links
to Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, took responsibility for the